Webcomic: PvP

aka: PVP Online

Not to be confused with the term Player Versus Player. Or PWP, for that matter.

PvP is a gaming webcomic started in 1998 by cartoonist Scott Kurtz. It takes place around the office of a small magazine production company that produces the gaming magazine "PvP", focusing mostly on the office antics of a straight-laced boss, his snobby best friend, their bratty sixteen year old intern, a naive, careless troll, and two frat boys. Over time, the cast gained a female counterpart to the intern, a love interest for the snob in the form of a feminist gamer, and some other characters. It originally started as a pastiche Affectionate Parody of video games and geek culture in general, moving away from that towards just being a slice of life comedy about its characters and an Affectionate Parody of every 80s sitcom ever made.

Pv P contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Non-romantic example, Rick "Turtle" Tuttle was this to Francis, until he died in an illadvised bungee jump accident. He briefly returned during a Halloween storyline, having learned nothing from his death.
  • Accidental Marriage: Francis and Marcie got drunk in Vegas and got married. However they are trying their best to make it work.
  • The Alleged Boss: Cole is treated with little respect as a boss since he lets his employees get away with their zany hijinks. Recently the office had a new employee hired to help with finances, which Cole was not consulted about and was mocked when he complained.
  • All Trolls Are Different
  • Ambulance Cut: Common gag for a while, with the last panel of a strip being an ambulance arriving. A later variation on this was Cole and Brent gleefully blasting away in the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Robbie must have won one hell of a lottery jackpot, he apparently can splurge the GDP of a small country whenever he wants.
    • He hired accountants to make sure he doesn't run out of money. He seems to have some investments in the pornographic industry as well, and now a significant shareholder for pvp.
  • Artifact Title: When was the last time the magazine itself meant anything?
    • Lampshaded in a guest strip, where the characters find themselves looking at the magazine for the first time.
  • Art Evolution: Compare the first strip with this more recent one, or again this one.
  • Art Shift: Kurtz did a Lolbat arc in the style of noir comics from The Thirties.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: In the Watchmen spoof.
  • Author Avatar: Scratch is actually Kurtz's cat. As of Sept 16th, 2008, he can talk, has cool goggles, and a ray gun.
    • Also, there is a dog in the strip, which was, and originally appeared as, Kurtz's dog. He later became Cole's. When the dog died in real life, the comic dog continued to appear.
    • And Kurtz himself used to appear to speak directly to the readers. He hasn't done this in a while, probably because he keeps a blog now.
      • While we're on the topic, Kurtz writes in his father's actual comments from time to time, and Reggie is based on a real friend of Kurtz.
    • Nowadays, Kurtz frequently uses Skull to reflect himself, but in a much less indirect manner. (His birthday reflected Scott's, etc.)
    • Lolbat villain the Mad Hater seems to resemble a younger Kurtz in appearance, but in personality seems based on those parts of the fanbase who dislike the Lolbat interludes.
  • Badass Santa: Whenever Kringus shows up
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Running Gag where Brent gets mauled by a panda. This has been played with in just about every possible way, including an arc where Brent and the panda become Fire-Forged Friends when a crazy activist tries to kidnap it, only to have the Reset Button pressed a short while later after a Zany Scheme to get the panda to mate backfires and results in Brent getting raped by the female panda in question.
  • Bi the Way: Miranda, apparently. Or maybe she's not, and just likes attention. Or is just messing with her sisters.
  • Blind Without 'Em: In a somewhat unusual example, Brent, because he wears sunglasses so often that his eyes can't handle the sunlight.
  • Brick Joke: In this PvP strip we get a punchline that looks like a throwaway line. Then, eight years later...
  • The Butler Did It: Not murder-related, but Butler is the LOLBAT.
  • But We Used a Condom: Jade's pregnancy scare
  • Bumbling Dad: Cole was originally portrayed as this with his wife and family. Until their divorce
  • Came Back Wrong: One of the party during the "Mines of Madness" Dungeons & Dragons arc. He thinks it's awesome.
  • Captain Ersatz: Scratch Fury and the "Cabbage Scratch Kid" do a subverted riff on Calvin and Hobbes. The subversion is that the cat is real and the boy is a doll. Hungry Cat might be a riff on Moe and/or Susie Derkins.
    • There was an arc where Scratch made a device to find his fellow superintelligent cats called FUREBRO and used it to find a cat who was a feline expy of Doctor Strange.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The strip toys with this to some extent. It never goes full-over into drama, but for most of its run now it's alternated between Gag Per Day format, dramedy, and downright serious drama. Some people felt the strip fell full into Cerebus Syndrome during the Brent/Jade wedding arc, which happened to overlap with a surprisingly serious turn for Skull, Cole's marriage falling apart, and a story about Robbie and Jase falling out. Of course, the strip quickly went back to comedic arcs after a few months, just as it always had done before.
    • Parodied in one strip where Cole reveals that he has inoperable cancer, and Jade accuses Brent of having a drinking problem.
  • Cheated Angle: Before Brent revealed his face (well, again), he would always be drawn so that you could never see his eyes behind his sunglasses. Now, when seen from the side, you can clearly see his eyes.
    • Also Jase's eyes were always covered by his hat until he started dating Robbie's gardener and temporarily stopped wearing it. He got his hat back but now his eyes are clearly visible (and he's lost a lot of weight).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This has happened to several minor characters over the course of the comic. Cole's wife and children haven't appeared in almost fifteen year, Sonya Powers(Skull's girlfriend) and Gwen haven't been in a comic for about ten years. Even characters like Reggie and Jace seem to have disappeared entirely.
    • Reggie, for one, is not forgotten as he was name-dropped in 2014, years after his last actual appearance in the comic.
  • Colorful Theme Naming: Brent Sienna is a pun off of burnt sienna. Note that he's also pretty dry...
    • And his wife is named "Jade".
    • In Max Powers' office, Brent's counterpart is named "Hunter Greene".
  • Comically Serious: Leela, taken to adorable extremes in her childhood.
  • Comic-Book Time: OH yes. The characters have aged somewhat as the series progressed, but in periodic jumps rather than it happening naturally. Cole's children were toddlers when the comic began but are now in college, while Francis hasnt aged more than about five years. And of course, none of the pets are affected by aging.
  • Commedia Dell Arte Troupe: Some sequences, such as the "Bulldog and Cooch" strips using Cole, Brent and Max Powers playing different characters.
  • Compressed Abstinence: Brent Sienna once resolved to give up sarcasm. He made a crack about his boss' weight-loss resolution a mere five seconds later, which was considered a new personal record for him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brent and Jade. Also, Francis, but not fulltime.
  • Deal with the Devil: One soul for a cup of coffee. Then again 1) Brent didn't really think the barista was the Devil, and 2) it was a really good cup of coffee. The Devil(?), rather than taking Brent to Hell as is the usual way these deals turn out, uses his ownership of Brent's soul to make him his errand boy.
    • Also, he's not really the devil. He's a computer security expert, and he's using the terror and humiliation he's engendering by pretending to be the devil to soften up Brent and Cole to the notion of hiring him to redo their security.
  • Deconstruction - Ladies and Gentlemen, Gordy and the Prarie Dogs "Hula Hoops!".
  • The Ditz - Skull.
  • Every Episode Ending - Every "Bulldog and Cooch" segment ends with their vehicle or house boat blowing up.
  • Expressive Mask - Scratch Fury as Kringus.
  • External Combustion - The "Bulldog and Cooch" strips.
  • The Faceless - Jase's girlfriend, Bonnie
  • Fantastic Racism - Skull occasionally expresses some disdain over the usual portrayal of trolls.
    • And apparently dark elves are bastards.
    • Skull has actually gone so far as to go on strike and protest against the unfair treatment of fantasy creatures.
    • Skull and his dwarven (as in an actual fantasy dwarf) girlfriend Valerie have their first real fight as a couple after Valerie just assumed that Skull would try to eat her pet goat.
  • Forgotten Anniversary - The author admitted when Brent and Jade's anniversary came that he'd forgotten it...so he followed up with a strip with both of them forgetting it.
    Brent "Wait. So which one of us is in trouble here?"
  • French Maid - Robbie had one while trying out servants. See Real Joke Name.
  • Gag Series
  • Gamer Chick - Marcy is a cookie cutter example (right down to the Tsundere girlfriend aspects). Averted with Jade.
  • G.I.R.L. - Francis's City of Heroes character, Catfight.
    • Also how Jade and Brent started dating. Francis played the GIRL for Brent and out of pity, Jade tried to bring Brent down gracefully.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot - Brent initially thinks Miranda is there to fulfill his fantasy of watching Jade get it on with another girl.
  • Gratuitous German - Here. Made even more hilarious by the comic notes.
  • Hevy Mtal mlaut - Parodied when Francis makes a Fake Band and initially wants to call it "Umlat". When he finds this was already taken by a real life band, he settles on "Djrk".
  • Hello, Nurse! - Invoked here.
  • Heroic Build - Francis of all people has this. Played with in that it's genetic as he doesn't work out.
  • His Name Really Is Barkeep - Butler. As well as one-shot character Sweetcans (Spelled Suide-Cannes)
  • Hollywood Nerd - To a certain extent, Brent is this. He pretends he's not a nerd, but his interests are very nerd-oriented. Furthermore, as in this trope, he's good-looking and socially adept (in other words, "normal"). The twist is that Brent is the only Hollywood Nerd in the main cast (except maybe Max Powers and Jade), since Francis and Cole are closer to popular perceptions of nerdom.
  • I Did What I Had to Do - Duck fires Cole and justifies it by claiming that Cole is the reason the company is in such dire straits now. Which is at least partially true, since Cole did hide the company's floundering finances instead of seeking help earlier.
  • I Hate Past Me - Somewhat played with. Duck is what Max once was. Max has a bit of a Heroic BSOD once he realizes what it's like to be on the other end.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey! - Miranda.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, the first child Skull was assigned to after Brents marriage ended up dying in a wagon accident, implied to be due to Skull landing on him when the wagon crashed
  • Intercontinuity Crossover - PVP has crossed over with Kurtz's other creations Captain Amazing and Samwise.
  • Intoxication Ensues- Skull gets stoned on a bad orange julius and takes a job as a Mall Santa while high.
  • The Jeeves - Butler (Seriously, that's his name)
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Brent. Lampshaded in this strip.
  • Juggling Loaded Rayguns - 2008/09/15, when Scratch tries to threaten someone with his ray gun.
  • Klatchian Coffee - Francis' twitch gamer 'power drink'.
    • Except all it did was make him hallucinate and vomit uncontrollably. A bit too powerful
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall - This strip starts out as this, but moves on to straight-up breaking it.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5 - Francis and Marcy. Literally. Came free with complimentary lampshading.
  • Lol Speak - Lolbat and Retweet, nacht.
  • Mall Santa - Skull becomes one while stoned on a bad orange julius.
  • Mood Whiplash - Brent and Jade's wedding.
  • Mundane Wish - Subverted. When a genie offered Brent and Cole one wish, they used it to get the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, but enjoy it so much they seem to have no regrets.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend - Skull's super-intelligent cat.
    • Inverted with Skull. Everyone in the comic can see Skull with the exception of Max Powers.
  • Oblivious Admirer - Ricky "Turtle" Tuttle is this to Francis.
  • Pac-Man Fever - Francis gets a ring with a Pokemon on it. Not a specific Pokemon, just "a Pokemon". A minor example, but considering Francis and Marcy are supposed to be nerds, the reference feels awkward. Of course the fact they are completely drunk at the time but help explain it.
  • Paintball Episode - a paintball storyline gets most of the rules right, then turns around and intentionally gets them wrong.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience - The Office Panda
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - Very rarely does the plot involve the cast actually having to produce a magazine. The rest of the time the office is just a setting for hijinks.
    • Lampshaded in a guest strip:
      Brent: You know, this is the first time I've actually seen our magazine.
    • Lampshaded again here:
      Marcie: Don't you have work to do?
      Francis: Probably. My job description has never been very clear.
    • Justified as the magazine is now no longer in production.
  • Porn Stash: Robbie entire second floor of his mansion is one.
    Francis: My God Robbie, How did you amass this much porn?!
    Robbie: I own a couple of adult entertainment companies. They send me one of everything.
    • At which point Francis starts making Smut Angels.
  • Punch Clock Villain - The Panda.
  • Put on a Bus - Marcy went to college in one story arc, and later returned.
    • Robbie and Jase. Robbie still shows up on occasion, but Jase is basically gone, having dropped most of his college-era slacker lifestyle after entering a relationship with Robbie's female gardener.
    • Cole's now exwife and their children
  • Product Placement - Not necessarily in the comic itself, but several of the site designs have been lousy with it, almost to the point that clicking anywhere outside the comic accidentally would take you to a sponsor site.
  • Proud to Be a Geek - The whole cast, with the exception of Jade. Even she might just be a different style of geek..
    • Brent, actually is an aversion, and while he admits to "interests that coincide with nerdity" he denies being an actual nerd, which Francis (a straight example of this trope) calls him out on it. He's an avowed Apple geek who will buy any product they make, a D&D player, a gamer, he plays World of Warcraft with his wife (who's in many ways geekier than him), quotes movies constantly, has declared Joss Whedon his master, almost dropped out of college because he was hooked on Sega games, and consistently gets into arguments about genre fiction or gaming with Francis and Cole. But he's not a nerd. Definitely not a nerd.
      • He's also a big fan of Star Wars and plays every game released in this franchise with Cole.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality - Particularly obvious with the treatment of Max Powers. He is, by all appearances, a friendly guy who's happy to help, whose worst crimes are being successful and pulling bad jokes no worse than the protagonists would pull. Yet every time he stopped by the PvP office he was received like he was some sort of colossal dick dead set on destroying everything the staff held dear, for no discernible reason. This was confronted and deconstructed during the Thanksgiving 2008 arc.
  • Real Joke Name - Butler and the French Maid Sweet-Cannes.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot - Not long after Scott Kurtz moved from Dallas to Seattle in 2009, the PvP staff made a similar relocation.
  • Redundant Parody - In one Lolbat strip we see his Grammar Nazi-themed Rogues Gallery. Kurtz made one of the villains "Onomatopoeia" as a joke both on the theme and the use of onomatopoeia in the sixties Batman show. However, there actually is a DC Comics villain called Onomatopoeia, based on a sinister reinterpretation of the same reference, and he even looks somewhat similar (by coincidence) to what Kurtz drew. To his credit, on being informed of this Kurtz edited the strip and replaced him with a palindrome-themed villain.
  • Running Gag - Several;
    • The Giant Panda savaging Brent.
    • A strip ending with an ambulance speeding away after a character gets Amusing Injuries.
    • Cole and Brent racing to an appointment by blasting off in the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard (after wishing for it from a genie)
  • '70s Hair - Bulldog and Cooch. They haz it.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage - Combined with a Plot-Relevant Age-Up with Francis and Marcy.
    "LEVEL UP! You gain: +3 Years Maturity!... Community College Courses!
  • Shout-Out - There's one to Adventure Time here.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis - Max Powers.
    • In Real Life, Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade, their good-natured cruelty to each other popping up in a strip every once in a while. Scott's foreword to one of their print collections ended with "Fuck them, and fuck you for buying this book and not PVP," and Gabe and Tycho refer to Scott as "Steve Kuntz" on the regular. Now that Scott is living in Seattle and working in the Penny Arcade offices, one only assumes that the hijinks will continue.
      • Also, the old World of Warcraft guilds (Panda Attack for PvP, the Knights of Arcadia for Penny Arcade) were pretty much an online, massively-multiplayer extension of the real-life relationship between the two. B^Uckley tried to get in on it with his own guild, but when Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins would have none of it, he ended things on a predictable note (ie massive hostility for all).
  • Skyward Scream
  • Speaks In Shoutouts - Lolbat with internet memes.
  • Straight Man - Cole
  • Sunglasses at Night - Brent: He wore them under his bandages when he was blinded, and when he took them off, he was Blind Without 'Em.
  • Super Hero - Kurtz's earlier character Captain Amazing made an early appearance and earned a spinoff. More recently, we've seen Jingle Force Five (a Christmas-themed parody of the original X-Men lineup) and The Lolbat, a combination of Batman and the internet lolcat phenomena, whose Rogues Gallery is made up of Grammar Nazis, and other assorted Internet based phenomena.
    • He also has a sidekick named ReTweet.
      • True, but he does not want.
      • He's reluctantly accepted ReTweet as his sidekick, and has also obtained two allies, the Double Rainbow.
  • Take That - Kurtz inserts plenty of these, aimed at a wide range of targets.
  • Thanks for the Mammary - Francis honks Jade's boob when he thinks that he's in the future and therefore his actions have no consequences (It Makes Sense in Context). This leads to Jade leaving PvP to start her her own magazine.
    • Part of the reason she returns to PvP is because one of her (female) coworkers in the new magazine does the exact same thing.
  • Two Gamers on a Couch - Robbie and Jase were very nearly a parody of this as a B side story. At one point they got locked in their playing room for four months and didn't even notice.
    • Also later the couch broke and they had a funeral pyre for it.
    Robbie "Okay everyone stand back. This thing absorbed decades worth of farts and it's going to go up like a roman candle."
  • Unconventional Smoothie - Francis's twitch-gamer power drink.
  • Unfortunate Names - When Skull creates his City of Heroes character, he makes a fire-based hero which he wants to name Flame Retardant. Unfortunately, the game engine's limitations prevent him from entering the whole thing which then ends up being Flame Retard instead.
  • Viva Las Vegas - Francis and Marcie get a quickie Vegas marriage during a gaming tournament.
  • Versus Title
  • What the Hell, Hero? - Done twice in a row. Max breaks into Cole's office and figures out PvP is going under and Cole calls him out on it and promptly fires him... But then Brent, after finding out Max is indeed right and that Cole had been ignoring Max, gives Cole an epic slap to the face.
  • Wham Line - "I'm late."
  • Whole Plot Reference - Although the strip frequently alludes to films, comics and video games in its plots, the confrontation between Cole and Lucille played out over several strips at the end of the most recent LARP arc is taken practically line-by-line from the confrontation between Luke and the Emperor from Return of the Jedi, with Cole as Luke, Lucille as the Emperor, and Max as Vader.
  • Younger Than They Look - Cole, Brent, Robbie and Jase were college roommates, which suggests they're around the same age. Cole states in one early strip that he's about to turn 30. He looks a solid 15 years older than Brent.
  • Your Mom - Expertly delivered by Francis.
  • Zany Scheme - Referred to as "Wacky Adventure". On one occasion Cole actually vetoed a perfectly good plan to discover the identity of Jade's online romance on the grounds that it wasn't interestingly wacky enough.

Alternative Title(s):

PVP Online